Monthly Archives: February 2012

Living For History

“Sweetheart, I have something to tell you.”

“What?”

Ron prayed palm to palm to his lips summoning himself to say, “I’m going to Mars.”

“Sorry? What was that? I can’t hear you through your hands.”

“I’m going to Mars.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means I’m going to Mars. The trip takes twenty years. Do you think you can wait for me?”

“You expect me to wait for you for twenty years?

“I don’t expect anything, I was just hoping.”

“The trip will take twenty years and you really think I would wait? Did you really think we could stay together if you take this trip?”

“I’ll be the first man on-”

“I know what it means! You don’t! You chose your job over me? You don’t love me! Why’d you marry me?”

“I didn’t know I’d get this opportunity.”

“It doesn’t matter. You always must have hoped and you didn’t tell me.”

“I talked about my dream to travel Mars lots of times.”

“Yeah, but you left out the part about it taking twenty years.”

“Really, I didn’t know or expect-”

“It doesn’t matter. You’ve made your decision. Go. Go to fucking Mars, don’t let your marriage stop you.”

“Sweetheart-”

“Don’t call me that. No I’m not. Fucking Mars is your sweetheart.”

“I have to go, I’m so sorry.”

“Sorry. Sure, you’re sorry. Look at you, you can’t wait to leave me and get stuck in a little spaceship with two other guys for twenty years. That’s your idea of a good time.”

“I’m going to Mars.”

“Yeah, I heard you. What do you think I’m deaf? I might have been dumb enough to marry you, but I’m not deaf!”

“Emma-”

“Just go. Get out of here. Sooner the better.”

“Emma-”

“Just go!”

Ron left to go to Mars. And ten years later when he reached The Red Planet, he found it empty of any sign of life. Worse than discovering nothing worth discovering, was the thought of getting back into the space shuttle and spending the next ten years with three other astronauts he had grown to hate. He hoped History would be kinder than the Present and write his life story better than he knew it.

The God, The Cobra and The Woman In The Shower

“It’s your move, Mister Death,” the cobra hissed to Shiva.

Shiva was too busy banging away at his tabla that He didn’t hear his serpent’s hiss.

The cobra was patient. He had the young woman cornered, he would wait for his Lord’s  call.

The young woman, Katrina, had her back turned to the snake, showering in peace and quiet. The sound of the rushing water dulled the sound of the hiss. She lowered her head beneath the water falling from the shower head getting her hair good and wet. She shampooed her hair every other day, and today she wondered if today was that other day. She couldn’t remember if she’d washed her hair yesterday. She figured this was India, the sweat alone was reason enough to give her hair a wash this morning.

She turned around to get the shampoo bottle when she saw the snake. It was a long thick cobra, with its hood spread open, poised to strike.

“Lord Shiva? I await your word. Shall I bite this woman?” the snake hissed his prayer.

The woman shrieked loud enough for Lord Shiva to hear over the sound of his tabla. Shiva sent a man, Nimesh, who sprinted into the shower and snapped the snake’s neck, killing it.

The woman screamed again.

Though naked, she needed to hug the stranger who had just saved her life. Her nakedness was like that of a baby, she was too shocked to feel ashamed.

Leaving the shower, she felt a sense of renewal, yet, the next day she would wake up knowing she could never shower in this country again. That night she got on a plane out of India, never to return. One snake loomed larger than an entire subcontinent.

***

This is based on a friend of a friend’s experience in India. For a happier ending, I invite you to something I wrote sitting on top of a mountain in Thailand:

https://cottonbombs.wordpress.com/2011/01/15/reflections-on-top-of-the-mountain/

Just type in ‘reflections’ in the top right corner of this page and you’ll get it.

The Recipe For The Modern Society

We make the news as much as the news makes itself.

If nobody cared, it would never make the air.

When everybody cares, they’d never take it off the air.

Look at the news

stare at the headlines

cast your eye on the

catch of the day

and see yourself

looking back at yourself

as 150,000 dead in Asia.

A hiccup of the Tao we call

tragedy.

Tectonic plates folding in on themselves

geological origami

though we see the story not the honesty of the reality that the earth is a living being

breathing us in and spitting us out

a universe of meaning.

Then, rape in Etobicoke

shooting in Scarborough

suicide bombing in Baghdad

tucked between ads for Bad Boy electronics.

Can we take anything seriously

when we see these things sponsored by companies profiteering from such

misery?

Add the funny pages, horoscopes, and stabs at predicting the weather and you have the

recipe for modern

society.

You’re Listening to NKFR: North Korean Free Radio

The following was translated from two minutes of North Korean radio.

“Hello and good evening and welcome to the eleven o’clock news. Today in Pyongyang everything was absolutely perfect. Nothing bad happened to anyone anywhere. Everyone was smiling and laughing and sharing food and drink with each other. It was another day of living in this socialist workers paradise called North Korea.

“The Great Dear Wonderful Leader had a busy day saving the lives of an entire orphanage, running through flames to carry each and every one of the one hundred and twenty-seven boys and girls to safety before announcing the weekly rice quota per family will be raised from ten grains to nine. *  The Great Dear Most Wonderful Creature To Ever Grace This Planet then wrestled a bear, walked on water, drank the lava of an erupting volcano saving an entire city, invented math, all before having a half a grain breakfast.

“In international news, The United Nations has once again named North Korea in the top three most desirable countries in the world to live. The top three include: Cuba, in third place, North Korea in second and at number one, China. The Great Dear Most Awesome Of All Awesome Lifeforms To Ever Bless Us With Their Very Being has released a statement saying: “We can all do better and work harder to be number one. We must not sit back and think we are better than all other countries but one. We must fight to be that one.”

“However, in South Korea, it was more misery, sadness and oppression as a corrupt capitalist government continues suppressing the poor and middle classes by a ruthless and greedy upper class that keeps its workers working for slave labor and lies.

“You’re listening to NKFR, North Korea’s Free Radio, uncensored and unbiased all the time.

“The evil and vile South Korean imperialist government conducted a poll asking its citizens the question: Where would you rather live, North or South Korea? One hundred percent of respondents said they would rather live in North Korea. Again border patrols from all sides fought with thousands of illegal aliens trying to get in.

“In weather, today’s high will reach thirty-seven Kim Jong Ils which the Great Most Majestic Beam Of Light To Ever Illuminate This Universe said is the perfect temperature for today. Thirty-eight would be too high and thirty-six would be ridiculous. Thank Dear Precious When He Was A Child Learned To Start And Stop Time Itself, thank Him for the weather. The rain will continue tonight and right up until next week. Dear Dear Gracious Leader is so generous with His rain.

“And in sports, The Greatest Most Superlative Leader That Ever Lived, hit eighteen holes in one with one shot blindfolded while boxing Muhammad Ali, who is doing much better physically than the punchless Western media has been reporting.

“North Korea won in every international competition today including three hundred and sixty-three gold medals at the Summer and Winter Olympics being held concurrently, along with The Paralympics in the North Korean city of Pyochul. Tickets for all the events are sold out and anyone found venturing in to Pyochul without a ticket will be shot on sight.

“The North Korean Anthem was well played a record 367 times at both Olympics today. North Korea also won World Cups in football, baseball, tennis, table tennis, hockey, sailing, and the North Korean squad took The New England Patriots two hundred and thirty-five to nothing in the Superbowl.”

* the broadcaster who delivered this was executed immediately following the broadcast because she had paused at, ‘the weekly grain quotas per family will be raised from ten grains per week to nine.’  She had been instructed to read right through.

Said The Universe To Its God

Got a light?

said the universe to its God before being folded over nine times and stuck

in the back pocket of the divine.

God was patient

God is everything

and He is a patient in the looney bin

frothing at the mouth

tongue wet with faith

singing how the universe sat in His pocket so long

it didn’t even feel itself unfolding.

To Be Two

She hides beneath the covers

as though they could protect her

from the monsters under her bed.

Luckily she’s two

and too young to know

that these monsters

will find you

one way or another.

When you’re two

anything is possible

except this capacity to express this

wonderlust coupled with this naivety

that the universe could keep up with the creativity

of a two year old.

There is a genius in childhood

that we’ll never remember

no matter how hard we try to practice

the gift of innocence

is always taken back from us

and we spend the rest of our lives thinking we’ve sinned

when

really

we just learned the lesson

that some lessons are best left unlearned.

If Love Was A Game Show

Hello! Welcome to the show, Wheel of Love! I’m your host, Chuck Silvers and we’re going to bring out three contestants who are going to compete for each others’ Love and cash and prizes of over one million dollars! Let’s bring out tonight’s contestants! Contestant number one comes from Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan. She’s a twenty-one year old three time divorcee. Please put your hands together and welcome, Connie!

Connie enters the stage.

“Welcome to the show, Connie!”

“Thanks, Chuck! Great to be here!”

“So, twenty-one, three times divorced. Sounds like you could use a bit of luck in love.”

“I sure could, Chuck! That’s why I came to play!”

“Alright! Let’s meet who you will be playing against or possibly playing for. Next up is Rick, a twenty-four year old high school junior. Put your hands together for Rick!”

Rick enters the stage.

“So, twenty-four and you are still in high school. What seems to be the problem, Rick?”

“I don’t know. I never understand the problem, that’s the problem. Math teachers test us on different problems and I can never read the problem and that’s always one big problem right there.”

“And it says here you see love as one big problem.”

“That’s right, love’s a problem I can never figure out. For one, I don’t even know which sex I like. Like, I like women. When I’m with a woman everything feels right, her stink is a good stink, then I’m with a guy and he stinks good, too. I find being bisexual very confusing. I feel like I’m being greedy or something.”

“Sounds like you’ve been with a lot of people.”

“It’s the only way I got through any of my maths and sciences was I had chemistry with the teacher. By chemistry I mean I was boning the teacher. If I failed, it was because I wasn’t. That’s why I can’t get out of junior year, Mr. Taylor, the physics teacher is straight. I’ve probably had chemistry with half my high school teachers and Sam, the janitor, just for luck. Sure, I was passing, but I wouldn’t call it love.”

“Well, Rick, let’s see what kind of luck you’ve brought with you! And let’s see your final competitor. Hank comes to us from Gnome, Alaska. Please, give a warm greeting to Hank!”

Hank enters the stage.

“So, Hank, tell us what it’s like living in the far north.”

“It’s cold and lonely. I’ve never dated anyone who wasn’t at least distant family in my entire life. I’ve been more than just kissing cousins with most my cousins.”

“Sounds like love can only get less familiar for you, Hank. Are you ready for that?”

“I want that very much, Chuck. In some ways, it’s easy dating your cousin, I mean, in my family we’re called kissing cousins for a reason. And you only have to do one Thanksgiving, one Christmas, you know your family already loves her, seeing as they’re related to her. But, outside the family, it’s hard dating your cousin. Introducing her with the same last name, people start asking awkward questions.”

“Well, let’s see if luck be a lady or a man or a ladyman, or a pair of men tonight on Wheel of Love!”

Audience applauds.

“Alright! Now it’s time for our contestants to spin for the chance of Love and cash prizes of up to one million dollars! Ok, Connie, you have the first spin, go ahead, give the wheel a spin!”

Connie spins. The wheel eventually settles on Rick.

“What do you think, Connie? Do you want to take the chance to Love Rick?”

“No, he seems pretty dumb. Can I trade Rick in for what’s his name over there?”

“Hank? No, no, Connie. You can’t trade for Hank. Either pick it up and pick Rick up, or lose a turn.”

“Lose a turn.”

“Ok, Connie’s passing the turn on to Rick. Go ahead and give the wheel your best spin, Rick!”

“Spin it?”

“Yeah, spin the wheel.”

Rick spins the wheel. The wheel settles on “For Love or Money.”

“You’re on For Love or Money! What’s it going to be, Rick? Do you want to take your chance on making a lot of Love or making a lot of Money?”

“I came for Love, Chuck!”

“He’s going to Love it!”

The audience roars in approval.

“Ok, Rick. Since you landed on For Love or Money and you’ve chosen Love, you get first crack at either contestant or anyone in the first three rows of the audience. Who are you going to Love, Rick?”

“You, Chuck!”

“But, I’m not a prize.”

“You sure are, Chuck! Contract says that anyone on the stage is up for Love and that means you, Chuck!”

“Alright, I’ll Love you but I can’t promise I’m gonna like you. That’s the show ladies and gentlemen! Thank you for tuning in to Wheel of Love, I’m going to go see if I can Love Rick. I think the secret is in the commitment. Though, it’ll be difficult cause I’m straight and he smells like an old hockey bag. Good night!”

When Horoscopes Lie

According to the Metro newspaper

today was supposed to be a 10 out of 10 for me

10 out of 10.

A perfect day they promised me today.

I read my horoscope on my way to work

10 outta 10

I thought I could do no wrong

I shouldn’t even try.

Sitting here now at midnight

I wouldn’t give the day any higher than a 6.

I gave in to that simple human conceit

of trying.

I slipped on some ice

(though I was wise enough to give in to the fall)

I poured sour milk in my coffee and it took me five or six sips to figure that out

and now I’ve officially got heartburn.

I’ve had better 10s.

And it wouldn’t be so hard to take

If they hadn’t gotten my spirits up so high.

I never shoulda gotten off that bus.

Title These Haiku Yourself

Turn on this laptop

your smile is my screen savor

electric sunrise.

****

I can’t paint this sky

these rain clouds are too heavy

to be held by eyes.

****

Talk of after life

talk about rain tomorrow

I’m no weather man.

****

To see inside me

the beauty in an ashtray

the x-ray of smoke.

****

Had I married you

I’d hate you for loving me

what are you, crazy?

****

Chocolate fondu

you dip all your words in to

such delicious lies.

****

I have no book mark

so I dogear each corner

I violently read.

****

The poor early worm

he got up before the bird

look what good it did.

****

Creation needs filth

nothing grew from a clean floor

manure works best.

****

In time we will learn

nothing can last forever

even forever.

****

Sneaking in to Hell

“It’s snowing,” Juergen thought aloud looking at The Wall. “Sure the snow can go over either side of The Wall in a breeze, yet, love cannot. I wish we were snowflakes,” he declared to the wind. Wind whistled in agreement.

Since The Wall had gone up in August cutting him off from his love who lived on the other side, Juergen had taken to talking to himself. He was getting good at it, getting to the point where he could win most of the arguments. Thinking aloud helped fuel his poetry, as he could better hear the voice of his words and later weave them in to poetic tapestries.  Also, it helped him feel like he was still talking to Helen. He imagined her standing on the other side, answering back.

Juergen looked up at the snow passing over The Wall and thought he had to figure out a way to do the same. ‘Yes, I will get in to the east one way or another.’  This thought he kept to himself, being smart enough not to say thoughts like this out loud, especially in front of a guard in his tower staring down at him.

He walked along the The Wall heading south through the city. Juergen was looking for the best place to attempt his crossing. After walking an hour and more, Juergen could see there really was no good point of crossing. The bastards had erected a guard tower in sight of two more guard towers, guarded with men who were on the orders of shoot to kill.

‘Anywhere I try to climb over is going to be in full view of at least two guard towers. Climbing is hopeless.’

That is when Juergen decided to fly over in a hot air balloon.

First thing he had to do was make a hot air balloon. He wouldn’t risk asking around for one, that would only get him caught before he ever had a chance at lift off.

“No, I’ll make it,” Juergen said to his empty apartment, which was good at keeping secrets.

Over the next few months, as Winter succumbed to the warmth of Spring, then Spring gave itself up to the heat of Summer, Juergen worked to discreetly put together his homemade hot air balloon. By August, almost a year to the day they put up The Wall, Juergen was ready to try and fly over it.

He had hidden the balloon in a park about half a kilometer from The Wall. He waded through the thick bushes to his balloon wrapped under plastic tarp, camouflaged beneath a bed of branches. He tossed the branches aside, unwrapped the tarp and fired up his balloon. The balloon rose straight up through the slight clearing in the thick of trees. Juergen got up above the trees, maybe 100 meters in the air, a benevolent eastern wind helped guide the balloon towards East Germany, and Helen. His heart raced as he saw The Wall below, pointing their spotlights down to the ground, letting him fly by undetected.

He flew about a kilometer across the border before finding a patch of ground that was unoccupied. He lowered the balloon gently into the abandoned parking lot, eyes darting about looking for any sign of another set of eyes witnessing his arrival.

He got out, then dragged the basket of his balloon across the parking lot to a large mound of garbage. Juergen buried his balloon in a heap of garbage before setting off to find his love.

He had been to her apartment so many times that he could sleepwalk through these East German streets and still find his way to her door. He looked for a taxi, but found this side of the city void of taxis at three o’clock in the morning. He walked fast, though, he held back from running.

Finally he was at her door. His only fear was that she had moved. He set the fear aside as he knocked on her door. He heard footsteps. Were they hers? The footsteps stopped on the other side of the door.

“Yes?”

It was her voice, it was Helen.

“Helen! It’s me, Juergen!” he sang.

“Juergen?”

He heard her unlocking locks. She opened the door and let him in.

“Helen!” He reached for her. She tensed up, turned her head from his kiss.

“What are you doing here?”

“Who’s that, Helen?” A man’s voice called from the bedroom. Juergen’s face fell, his mouth went dry.

“Who’s that, Helen?” Juergen asked the same question, though much more meekly.

A man, wearing only his underwear stepped out into the hall.

“Who’s this?” He asked aggressively.

“Karl, this is Juergen,” Helen introduced. The men did not shake hands.

Juergen felt as though he had been shot in the chest and was numb to the pain he knew he was feeling.

“I came for you,” he mumbled to Helen.

“How did you get here? How?”

“Hot air balloon. I hid it. We can get out of here right now, tonight. Come with me and we can escape to the west,” he pleaded with her, though he knew her answer.

“I’m with Karl now. I- I didn’t think you’d- I can’t believe this. Can you get all three of us back?”

“There’s only room for two,” he said looking at her chin. Every other part of her looked the same, except her eyes. Her eyes had changed so painfully from filled with love to filled with pity. He couldn’t look at them, he had to get out from under them.

“Then I can’t go with you. I am sorry, Juergen, this is incredible of you to try and get me out, but, I love Karl and I can’t leave him.”

These were the worst words Juergen had ever heard. It was the first time he had heard her use, ‘love’ in such a cruel way.

“Then you go together. I’ll show you where the balloon is, then you two fly away.”

“Oh, Juergen, you’d do that? You are the greatest man!” Now she hugged him.

“If I’m the greatest, why are you going with him?” He asked in her embrace.

She let go. “Juergen, I’m sorry. I never thought I’d see you again, so, I met Karl and we’re  in love.”

It killed Juergen to know that he was not part of her, ‘we’.

“Ok, you don’t have to rub it in. Let’s just get you two the balloon so you can get the hell out of my sight.”

He showed them to the balloon, gave them simple instructions on how to work it, then stepped away and didn’t watch as Helen and Karl went up up up in to the night sky. And he didn’t look back when he heard the sirens and gunfire.

Juergen would spend the rest of his life in East Germany. He would barely notice The Wall that surrounded the city, for he had no desire to get out. Sometimes, he would think of Helen, and the night she flew away. With the balm of time, the sound of sirens and gunfire softened, so, too, did his thoughts that she didn’t make it. Karl always got killed, though.